Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Suffering For Sale

Suffering For Sale

Welcome to the 21st century--the century of making billions (or is that trillions?) of dollars from causing our fellow humans pain, death and suffering. If you're not sure what we're talking about this week, read the following  and watch the Democracy Now video. It's eye-opening.

PBS Report From Yemen: As Millions Face Starvation, American-Made Bombs Are Killing Civilians  https://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/51277-pbs-report-from-yemen-as-millions-face-starvation-american-made-bombs-are-killing-civilians

Closer to home, Vegematic, our friend in the North, contemplates why a neighboring country with only 4% of the world's population incarcerates over 25% of the world's jailed people. What does it say about a country that makes

money off of imprisoning its own people? What does it say about a country that imprisons those looking for asylum--including children? What does it say about a country that drugs these refugee children without parental consent? What does it say about a country that allows young children to be abused in private detention facilities?

Immigrant Shelters Drug Traumatized Teenagers Without Consent

Chicago Detention Facility Under Investigation Following Allegations of Abuse of Migrant Children

What does that say about us as human beings if we allow any of this suffering to continue?


The Prison Industrial Complex and Its Victims
by Vegematic Deluxe

I've been thinking a lot lately about crime and punishment. The question as to why America incarcerates so many of its citizens might seem of only peripheral importance to some progressives, particularly in my case living outside the US. However, I am of the opinion that human rights abuses are a global issue and affect us all as human beings.  Why as a nation does the US find it necessary to imprison a higher proportion of its population than any other nation on earth? Given that there is a ridiculously high recidivism rate, why has there been so little impetus to change an obviously failed system?

I believe that it's because the prison system in America has become a well-oiled, highly profitable machine. The very idea of privately run for-profit prisons should be anathema to anyone who values living in a free society. When a profit motive is introduced into a judicial system, it all but provides an iron clad guarantee that corruption will follow. Even in state or federally run prisons there are financial incentives for the unscrupulous. Prisoners are  routinely forced to pay exorbitant fees for simple necessities like soap and toothpaste. They provide a captive market for unscrupulous phone companies charging ridiculously high rates to talk to loved ones. Entire states have become dependent on convict labor, displacing what should be decent paying jobs for locals.
A couple of things to ponder: How many people are in prison for low level non-violent drug offenses? What would the unemployment rate be in actual terms if those people were not incarcerated? Could there be a correlation between politicians eager to report low unemployment figures and a tough lock 'em up policy for low level offenders?  

I've often wondered if these prisoners had any opportunities at all in life, given where most grew up with lousy underfunded schools and lack of any viable career path, coupled with a lack of blue collar jobs due to mass de-industrialization. The advent of draconian laws and private prisons, all have fed the largely racist, endless school-to-prison pipeline. 

Wouldn't it be better for a society, as a whole, if government put some of the money spent on incarceration into vocational training for at risk youth--particularly in low income areas that have a chronic shortage of jobs or opportunities? How about spending the money before they end up in prison instead of after. Like the old ad said, "You can pay me now--or pay me later.

The entire prison system in America has become so economically and politically entrenched, that overhauling it would require a herculean task by both citizens and elected officials. The obvious place to begin would be to abolish private prisons. Second, there should be a blanket amnesty for all non-violent drug convictions. Learn from countries like Portugal who had great success in reducing addiction and crime by legalizing drug use and viewing addiction as medical issue instead of a criminal offense.

It's also very telling that as more states legalize marijuana private prisons are hedging their bets by lobbying for increased incarceration of the undocumented. These prison corporations are dealing in human lives which to them are merely numbers on a spread sheet. A resource to be used without concern for the ripple effect that spreads a noxious poison throughout society.
There needs to be an end to the dehumanization and stigma that becomes permanently attached to those who have served their time and find themselves shut out from society. Sadly, there will always be a need to remove violent and dangerous criminals from society. This is an unfortunate reality that faces every civilized nation. It's only in America that incarceration on a mass scale becomes a profitable business model. [Editor's note: For details, see video below.]

BIO: Vegematic has been a proud "shadow-banned" You Tuber for many years. Check out his insightful progressive podcast on his YT channel and subscribe today. (Tell him The Revolution Continues Blog sent you--or just leave him a comment. He replies to all of them. Canadians are polite that way.)

The following short video shows exactly who is profiting from the construction of these private prison facilities, GEO Group and Core Civic. Watch and share it with those who don't understand the lure of making big money through the suffering of others. https://youtu.be/FoZ5vegg6ic

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Power to the people and not the corporations!

National Domestic Workers Alliance
Witnessing the horror of the Trump administration tearing apart families and abusing children has us wanting to do anything and everything possible to make it stop.

Our government may not be listening, but the giant banks that rely on us as customers sure do. Some of our biggest banks are in the business of financing the private prisons carrying out atrocities against immigrant families.

The stories we’re hearing both out of detention centers and from the families who have been reunited under traumatizing circumstances are nothing short of gut-wrenching.

We must do everything in our power to stop this abuse. While we’re still pressuring our lawmakers and demanding change from the Trump Administration, we must also stop this abuse where it’s happening: in these for-profit prisons.

Thank you,

Jess Morales Rocketto

Just Foreign Policy
Watch & share the Democracy Now report.

Tell Congress to act.Democracy Now had a hard-hitting report on the U.S.-Saudi war in Yemen. They combined highlights of the PBS Newshour series with an interview with Jane Ferguson, the PBS Newshour journalist who “smuggled” herself into Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen to report on conditions there. 

You can watch [and share] the Democracy Now segment here:

PBS Report from Yemen: As Millions Face Starvation, American-Made Bombs Are Killing Civilians
What’s crucial about the Democracy Now report, compared to most other [far too infrequent] reports in the U.S. media, is that it squarely places responsibility for the war on the government of the United States, and highlights the need for political action in the U.S. to end the war now. The report makes clear that the war is perceived correctly in Yemen as a U.S. war, that the war would not be possible without the participation of the United States, and that the U.S. government can end the war anytime it wants, by cutting off U.S. participation and by pressuring its “allies” Saudi Arabia and the UAE to end the war and agree to a political resolution. The report also makes clear that if the war is not ended this year, millions more human beings will be pushed to the brink of starvation. 

This last fact, what will happen to civilians in Yemen if the war doesn’t end this year, is crucial. There’s a lack of urgency in Washington right now about pressing for action to end the war, even though the fate of millions of human beings hangs in the balance. There are many causes for this lack of urgency, but one key cause is the political season in Washington. With mid-term elections approaching in four months, the foremost concern for many people in Washington about any issue now is: how will this issue affect mobilization for our team in the mid-term elections? If it’s not obvious how raising an issue would help the Democratic team or the Republican team mobilize for the mid-term elections, it’s hard to generate interest for it in Washington right now.   
But millions of human beings in Yemen can’t wait until after the mid-term elections for action to end the war. They need action to end the war now.
Maybe the report by Democracy Now, which is watched by peace activists across the country, can help shake Washington from its complacency. 

Watch and share the Democracy Now report.
Tell Congress to act.

Thank you for all you do to help make U.S. foreign policy more just,
Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy If you think our work is important, please support us with a donation.


Apartheid in Israel was just made official and it's devastating.

Israel just passed the Nation-State law that says only Jewish people have the right to self-determination and demotes Arabic from an official language to "special status."

This is a horrific, racist, and discriminatory move to punish and rob Palestinians of their most basic rights and freedoms!
stencil graffiti says welcome to apartheid street
And as a Jew and a rabbi, this action runs counter to the Judaism that I love. I unequivocally stand with Palestinians and 100% reject Israel's official policy of apartheid — join me:

The Nation-State bill that Israel passed today cements Israel as an apartheid state — from the West Bank to Gaza to Jerusalem to Haifa.

Palestinians, no matter where they live, are controlled by an Israeli government and military that robs them of basic rights and freedoms.

I envision a future where all who live in Israel/Palestine enjoy the same rights and freedoms. And I'm inviting you to invest in that vision with me.

Today we once and for all put to bed the illusion of Israel as a democracy — and now the work continues to make it so.

Join me.

Rabbi Alissa Wise

Together, we can stop plastic from clogging up our oceans!
As soon as I step outside the house, I start noticing plastic pollution all around me.
And it’s not just outside  plastic is polluting the shelves of our local stores too! In most grocery or big-box stores, it is nearly impossible to avoid plastic packaging. Much of this plastic can’t or won’t be recycled, and will ultimately become plastic pollution making its way to our oceans and waterways.

The good news is, people like you have been putting pressure on grocery stores and other retailers to use less plastic packaging, and it’s working. Thank you! Once CEOs and management at these stores realize that people are deeply concerned about the overuse of plastic, they are making big changes — like just recently, when Alaska Airlines announced it was eliminating its use of plastic stirring straws.1

Here’s what we need you to do.
  1. Print out a letter to your local grocery store manager and sign it (we have a letter you can use).
  2. Bring the letter to your local grocery store and ask to meet with the manager.
  3. Tell the manager your concerns about plastic pollution and hand them the letter.
  4. Join a call on August 9 to let us and other Greenpeace supporters know how it went. This part is the most important, so that we can learn from each other’s experience and figure out how to make our tactics even more effective.
We need to stop more plastic from flowing into our rivers, streams, and oceans — and this can only happen if more people like you join in.

For a plastic free future,
Jill Pape
Supporter Mobilization Director, Greenpeace USA

P.S. We’ve got to stop the flow of plastic into our oceans and waterways. There’s something concrete you can do in the next 2 weeks. Sign up to visit your grocery store manager and let us know how it went!

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